Presentation Lecture
“Open Heart Surgery or Chicken Soup?”

From 1985 Williams Road Summer School Report:

Moshe Lang raised questions around the use of paradox as either “Open Heart surgery or Chicken Soup?” He conducted a short empirical study of what paradox meant to participants in the Summer School and showed that most therapists were in some way rather wary of “paradox” He believed that the notion of paradox may be made into more than it actually is. The value of “paradox” is that it can give therapists different ways to think about working with families. It is of more use to therapists than to families. “Paradox” according to Moshe arises out of interaction and conversation with clients and need not at all be a “high risk” act requiring teams or elaborate planning. “Paradox” is most effective when it does not come from the secret use of therapists power but rather develops as a cooperative conversation. The “paradox of paradox” may be that when the therapist does not see his work “as a paradox” but as a logical development of the way the therapeutic relationship evolves, it is most likely to be effective. Moshe’s discussion was laced with stories illustrating these themes.


Thorsen, F. & McDonald, S. (1985). 1985 Williams Road Summer School Report. Australian Journal of Family Therapy 6(2), 105-106.